Nadia Willan discovers that Thailand’s luxury waterfront Z9 Resort promises inspirational simplicity.
The beauty of what a luxury vacation is transcends definition and embraces a myriad of special qualities. In some instances it is about extravagance, of grandeur and glamour, while in others superior style and high-end comfort reigns supreme. At Thailand’s waterfront Z9 Resort, luxury is inspired by a standout simplicity that is quite simply sensational.
Situated on the spectacular Srinagarind Dam, in Kanchanaburi, home to the famed ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’, in the western part of the country, the resort’s 15 on-the-water villas seem to be set in their own sanctuary set apart from the rest of the world; a setting that is timeless yet futuristic, with stays that are exquisitely designed yet exude an air of stripped-back beauty.
The cool curved wooden houses with their quirky chipboard ceilings and back-to-basics interiors inspire a feeling of being connected with the essence of what life is really about. White linens, soft bathrobes and stylish elements create a layer of natural luxury too. However, it is the achingly breathtaking lake and mountain views revealed through a wall of glass, with sliding doors out to a private on-the-water deck, that truly astound. Here is a vista that goes beyond being picturesque and seems to resonate to the inner core of who you are.
The transformative effect is immediate. From walking into the villa to reaching the wooden deck, a few steps away, the promise that Z9 can “recharge your life energy” and “renew your spirit” seems an aspiration that is within tantalising touching distance.
In fact, grabbing an in-villa resort lifejacket and jumping straight into the water, immersed in such a superb scenic environment, the magic is already happening; you are already under the Z9 spell.
For the Instagram generation, Z9 Resort is the ultimate photo opportunity, yet in a place that feels like it is at the edge of the world no picture can do the experience justice.
Waking up to a cool dip before breakfast feels wonderfully decadent, while kayaks can be tied up at the villas ready for an early-morning or sunset paddle. There are also oversized stand-up-paddleboards, perfect for watersport novices to master easily at speed. This is a vacation that suits couples in love but also families who want to encourage kids to turn off technology and value the simple pleasure of kayaking across the water as dragonflies dance on the surface.
The resort offers two types of one-bedroom villas, with ‘South the Scene’ for couples and the larger ‘Escape North’ with an extra bed available. The bigger villa impresses the most with bean bags that can be taken to the outside deck which is designed on two levels and affords unparalleled views. In addition, this villa is so private that not one part of it is overlooked by anybody at all; totally liberating for those who want to greet the day with a naked sun salutation on their private deck or bask nude in the starlight.
A buffet breakfast is served at the main building, which is designed to fit the architecture of the resort and overlooks the water and the villas. While adequate, this is the only blot on the landscape as the dishes fail to inspire which jars a little with the soaring beauty of the surroundings. However, during the day the café and bakery at the resort offer lovely lunches and welcome guests into a light, breezy, laid-back space that is as comfortable as it is convenient.
Beyond the resort, the wonderful Erawan Falls are just a short drive away, with luxury transport to and from the protected national park organised by staff at the gorgeously cute open-air reception. With seven main waterfalls, the park is an absolute must-visit with emerald green pools to cool-off in, a natural rock slider at one fall and a fabulously fun daytrip had by all. Walking from one waterfall to the next in a jungle landscape adds to the atmosphere, while hiring a life-vest at the park is recommended for anyone wanting the freedom to jump in and out of the water whenever they feel like it.
The town of Kanchanaburi, renowned for its World War II history, feels a million miles away, yet is also within reach. Worthy of a visit, with many wanting to pay homage to the events that took place here during this dark period, splitting a trip between the town and the resort makes sense. Z9 is a destination that you go to and, apart from a day at the Falls, you stay at to really soak up the experience.
After dark a deck of giant beanbags creates a romantic setting under a blanket of stars, while the restaurant is a beacon of warm hospitality that lights up the skies. The Thai dishes are not just good, they are great, perhaps because there is no pretence that this is a fine-dining eatery. Instead, there is an authentic honesty in the cooking that translates into feeling happy and satisfied after sharing some delicious classics. Once again, the simplicity of quality ingredients evokes the mantra of substance over style.
Unless a full vacation retreat somewhat off the map is desired, a long weekend feels long enough to step out of reality into the ambiance of Z9’s otherworldliness, with weekdays not surprisingly generally quieter than the weekend. Perhaps the most impressively hip aspect of Z9 Resort is that everything radiates from an innate understanding of just how special this off-the-beaten-track setting really is and what a privilege it is to spend time here far, far away from Thailand’s glitzy tourist beaches in the South.
Address: Unnamed Road Tha Kradan, Si Sawat District, Kanchanaburi 71250, Thailand
Phone: +66 63 239 4459